Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hats, Roles, Carnival, and Masquerade Weekend at the Faire

This was Masquerade Weekend at the faire. Many of the cast members, vendors, and even some of the patrons wore masks or dressed in costumes that were not their usual mode of dress. And it illustrates quite well one of the major points from my own theoretical framing, that of the carnivalesque setting and the way norms are purposefully inverted in such a context.

What did she just say? Okay, here's one example: I would normally dress as a pirate at renfaire. You've all seen the pictures in previous posts. But this weekend I pulled out a couple of dresses from my days (of yore) in the SCA that, in the context of this particular faire count as "noble" garb. Meaning I dressed as a "Lady" instead of a pirate. That's a big change in roles, and a huge leap in status, even if you considered the *ahem* captain character, as the owner of a ship and an entrepreneur, not to be a lowly criminal. Huge reversal, no? That's what I'm talking about. I was even treated differently, as part of the play of course, the cast all know what I'm doing with my research and my persona. Many of them curtsied /bowed to me and called me m'lady who would not have done so were I wearing a pirate hat instead of a circlet and veil. 

But it was not only me. This picture of the cast at pub sing Sunday afternoon also illustrates this point. Look at the hats. Some of them have traded with others of vastly different stations. The two you can see here are the king's piper (in front waving her arms) wearing the tinker's hat, and (behind her in yellow) Lady Isobel wearing the cooper's hat that looks like one of his barrels. Though they were not taking up one another's trades for the day, there was still the inversion of "norms" by the trading of hats that scholars have written about in a carnival or festival setting, especially when dealing with things of the medieval time period. It's really validating when something like this in my research comes together without even trying or looking for it.

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